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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The best defense is attack (3)

[7: 5, Argantes speaks]

Io non consento già ch'ignobil morte
I giorni miei d'oscuro oblio ricopra,
Né vuo' ch'al novo dì fra queste porte
L'alma luce del sol chiuso mi scopra.
Di questo viver mio faccia la sorte
Quel che già stabilito è là di sopra;
Non farà già che senza oprar la spada
Inglorïoso e 'nvendicato io cada.

"I don't accept that a despicable death should hide my days with dark oblivion, nor will the noble sunlight, tomorrow morning, find me enclosed behind these gates. With this life of mine, let Fortune make whatever has already been decided On High,(*) but it won't make me fall inglorious and unavenged without having used my sword first."(**)

(*) A Renaissance-styled paraphrase of the typical Muslim omen inshallah, "God willing."
(**) In Gerusalemme Liberata, Argantes' sword was a gift from Godfrey himself, when Argantes went before him as an ambassador. Here in the Conquistata, Tasso has deleted this detail probably because Argantes' threat (reported elsewhere in the poem) to kill Godfrey with that very sword was too sacrilegious against the shared chivalric values.